Friends gave Clintons $10 million to pay debts --- and they still stiffed lawyers for years

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When Bill and Hillary Clinton left the White House, donors had covered all but $3.9 million of their still growing scandal legal bill -- easily covered by her 2000 $4 million book advance -- but they didn't pay off their lawyers for years.

Using two legal defense funds that raised about $10 million while Clinton was president, the former first couple got donors including author Stephen King, actor Robert DeNiro, singer Tony Bennett and Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson to give up to $10,000 each.

Even taxpayers eventually coughed up $85,000 for lawyers handling a long list of scandals including Whitewater, impeachment and the Monica Lewinsky sex affair. Clinton had asked the government to cover $3.5 million, but a court cut it to $85,000.

But according to Hillary Clinton's Senate financial disclosure forms, the couple's legal bill wasn't fully paid until sometime in 2004 or 2005, when the same documents revealed a joint bank account worth between $5 million and $25 million and a blind trust valued at $5 million to $25 million. And that form didn't include Bill Clinton's massive speaking fees and earnings from his own multi-million dollar book.

In her first interview about her latest memoir, Hillary Clinton on Monday night told ABC that the couple left the White House “dead broke,” presumably a reference to their legal bills, which continued to roll in after leaving office.

But even before they left the White House, Hillary Clinton had inked an $8 million book deal, demanding some $4 million up front, and Bill Clinton was working a deal that gave up some $15 million for his book. He also earned millions giving speeches after leaving office.

More than two years later, New York Daily News reporter Tim Burger wrote that “Bill and Hillary Clinton have become fabulously wealthy since leaving the White House, but they're still stiffing their lawyers.” He revealed, for example, that the president's top scandal lawyer, Robert Bennett, was still owed $1 million.

Since leaving office, Bill Clinton has reportedly earned well over over $100 million in speaking fees. "I never had any money until I got out of the White House, you know, but I've done reasonably well since then," Clinton told a 2010 forum in Cape Town, South Africa.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at